Anand Patwardhan: Jai Bhim Comrade. 2011

I first saw and heard Dalit poet and activist, the late Mr. Vilas Ghogre in Patwardhan‘s early ‘cityscape’ “Mumbai, Hamara Shahar / Bombay, Our City” (1985), many years back. The power of Vilas Ghogre’s words and melody stayed with me for a long time only to be rekindled by Patwardhan’s latest ‘Jai Bhim Comrade‘, an elaborate three hour ‘docu-treatise’ of the caste question in contemporary India, ‘narratively’ hinged around the singular brutal instance of state oppression as experienced via the mass slaying of Dalit residents of Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar colony by police forces in Mumbai, India, on the 11th of July, 1997. Crafted over a decade, ‘Jai Bhim Comrade’ is an important addition to Patwardhan’s complete oeuvre of conscientious cinema, where he traces the meandering, complex intermixes of opportunistic politics, resistance and activism, subaltern rationalism, identity and religiosity, movements for humanitarianism and justice in thwarting divisive, violent, repressive social tendencies. In mapping the narrative through Vilas Ghogre’s martyrdom; Bhai Sangare, the outspoken, fiery Dalit leader, succumbing to burns while burning copies of the Manu Smruti; and the new and emerging cultural activism of Dalit consciousness as exemplified by groups like the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), ‘Jai Bhim Comrade’ elaborates an India that never finds voice in the dominant, vaccuous pop-commercialism of the mainstream media. Watch.

जय भीम कामरेड - भाग 1 (Hindi)

Update: The earlier English subtitled version was pulled down on the tube. This is part 1 without English subtitles. I will post a subtitled version as soon as it is available.

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